Guest post; My conversation with the JTNews editor

By Rachel Kaplan Sassoon

Today I cancelled my subscription to the JTNews.

For the past few years and especially over the past few weeks I have become increasingly alarmed by the downward spiral of a newspaper my family once very much enjoyed.  From one issue to the next our Jewish community newspaper has been featuring articles and letters by Israel haters and sometimes outright anti-Semites. The August 16th  edition included a letter from Linda Frank, a local radical who has accused the Israel Defense Forces of using snipers to kill innocent children. Her letter not only defends Mahmoud Abbas’s Stance on banning Jews from living in a future Palestinian State, but also vilifies the IDF, claiming they commit weekly unprovoked violence against innocent Palestinians.

I want to share with you my conversation with the JTNews editor, Joel Magalnick.

When I called the JTNews office to express my concerns I was immediately connected to the editor, Joel Magalnick who asked me why I wished to cancel my subscription. I told him that I was outraged that the JTNews prints vile and dangerous lies against Jews. Most recently the Linda Frank piece in which she denied Mahmoud Abbas’ well documented pledge to ban Jews from a future Palestinian state. Mr. Magalnick responded by saying Ms. Frank is a part of our community and all opinions can be printed. Part of our community??? Believing that when Mr. Magalnick said “community” he was referring to our Jewish community I asked him if she was Jewish.  Joel said he believes so…  She is not

I told the editor about the vile lies that Frank spreads; saying the Jewish state deliberately murders children. Mr. Magalnick told me he doesn’t vet the people he publishes based on their prior positions; rather he bases his decision to publish solely on the content of their current submission.  He told me that all Ms. Frank did was express her opinion that Abbas did not say he would ban Jews from his Palestine, only Israeli soldiers and settlers would be banned. I responded that reputable news organizations reported that the clear intent of this and past statements are that he would ban Jews from residing in any future Palestinian state.

He said that because I do not speak Arabic I cannot possibly know what Abbas really said. 

It is hard to shock me, but I was shocked by Mr. Magalnick’s response. He said that because I do not speak Arabic I cannot possibly know what Abbas really said. He asserted thatCrumpetsnfigs translations can be incorrect and are often changed for political reasons. I said, really?!  I can’t know what  Abbas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas or Ahmadinajad say because I don’t speak Arabic? I can’t know that these people are calling for our annihilation because I “don’t speak Arabic?!”

I told him that by his reasoning he couldn’t really know what Hitler said because he  didn’t know German and thus couldn’t read Men Kampf in the original language.

I then asked the editor if he thought  Abbas would allow me and him to move to a future Palestinian state. Magalnick said he didn’t know.

At this point I was already troubled by Magalnick’s bizarre and contorted defense of a woman whose life work is to vilify the Jewish state. I reminded him that ironically it is the IDF that protects Abbas’ people and it is the IDF that is treating wounded Syrians.  Gazans receive medical care in Israeli hospitals by doctors who have served and serve in the IDF…these are the people Abbas doesn’t want in his state. The IDF soldiers that help Jews and non Jews alike. The IDF that are the first responders  when a natural disaster strikes like in Haiti. The IDF is the most moral army on this planet and yet  the JTNews has no problem printing libels against them!

I reminded him that he justified printing Linda Frank’s letter because “she is a part of the community”. ” I am part of the community as well” I told him and asked if he would print my opinion piece on how Hitler got it right. He said he would not because that was crossing a line.  But somehow demonizing the IDF is not crossing a line?

Click on above for full size image

Click on above for full size image

I ended our conversation by telling Mr. Magalnick that the JTNews is putting me, my children, and all Jews in danger by promoting false opinions that claim the IDF are committing atrocities and articles fomenting hate towards the Jewish people. Aware that the JTNews is owned by the Federation, I informed him that I will be calling the Jewish Federation and I will urge the Federation to end their association with a paper that helps evil people promote their twisted views. Mr. Magalnick claimed that the JTNews is not funded by the Jewish Federation. A claim that I am not sure is true. He told me if he wouldn’t print the other side he would get complaints about that as well.

I wish I had told him that it is not his job to print the other side; he is supposed to represent and defend the Jewish community and our only Jewish state. I wish I would have told him that the Linda Franks of the world are using the same classic propaganda techniques so effectively used against our people in the all too recent past. I wish I would have told him that all of us, no matter where we work, no matter where we live, we have a shared responsibility to point out the difference between propaganda and valid opinions.

It is my hope that Joel  Magalnick along with the other JTNews editors will now be more careful and recognize the difference between opinions and hurtful, harmful propaganda. Unfortunately we have our own history to remind us what happens when one does not distinguish between the two.

Rachel Kaplan Sassoon loves her family, Israel and the Ellen DeGeneres show, she lives in Seattle with her husband, four children, two dogs and a snake,